Illinois hospitals struggle with state’s unpaid bills

An area hospital is fighting to stay open for you and your family, despite $1 million owed to it by the state of Illinois. 

Illinois’ budget impasse is holding up Medicaid reimbursements, and Illinois isn’t paying state employee health insurance claims. Small hospitals are having to forgo other bills and make hard choices to ensure your health care doesn’t suffer.

Keeping services up and running at Franklin Hospital is getting harder every day. At the end of May, the state owed the small, 25-bed hospital a total of $991,000. Finance department account payment specialist Celeste Higgins says to make sure health care quality isn’t cut, many of their supply vendors are going unpaid.

"We get calls daily. We get emails, and they have to be returned promptly even though we don’t have the answer that they’re looking for. They want payment, and we haven’t received the funds. So, therefore we can’t pay out." Higgins said.

"We have a good relationship with People’s National Bank, so they help us with a line of credit to absorb some of that. The other part is we put off our vendors for as long as we can," said Franklin Hospital Chief Financial Officer Jim Johnson.

Johnson says, thanks to court orders, the state is slowly paying out for Medicaid, and it’ll eventually catch up on the $500,000 it owes the hospital.

But the $491,000 owed from state employee insurance claims won’t arrive in until the budget impasse ends. Until then, the hospital says patient care comes first and bills will have to wait.

"As the time goes by, it gets worse, because they’ve heard that from us for several months now. And they (employees) want to know when it’s going to end, too, and we just can’t tell them," Higgins said.

She says the hospital is holding on for a budget compromise from lawmakers so it and other hospitals can get the books back in the black.

Franklin Hospital isn’t the only one struggling with unpaid bills from the state.

Pickneyville Community Hospital says Illinois owes them $2.2 million in outstanding claims. Harrisburg Medical Center says it’s owed more than $9 million.

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